Book Review: Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes

The Sense of an Ending


This intense novel follows a middle-aged man as he contends with a past he has never much thought about – until his closest childhood friends return with a vengeance, one of them from the grave, another maddeningly present. Tony Webster thought he’d left all this behind as he built a life for himself, and by now his marriage and family and career have fallen into an amicable divorce and retirement. But he is then presented with a mysterious legacy that obliges him to reconsider a variety of things he thought he’d understood all along, and to revise his estimation of his own nature and place in the world.

A novel so compelling that it begs to be read in a single sitting, with stunning psychological and emotional depth and sophistication, The Sense of an Ending is a brilliant new chapter in Julian Barnes’s oeuvre.
– Goodreads

Published in 2012 by Vintage
Softcover, 150 pages


This is the second time that I’ve read this book. As the above summary suggests, both times that I have read this book, I have felt compelled to read this book in a single sitting. This novel is totally unputdownable, even on the second read.

Sense of an Ending is a short book, with just 50 pages and could even be described as a novella. It didn’t feel like reading a novella, even though it was a quick read. So much happened to the main character Tony, as the story followed from adolescence to his old age. At the end of the book, I felt that I was friends of all characters, which was unexpected, considering the short length of the book.

Today, when I pick this book up, the first thing I notice, other than the fantastic cover, is how it still looks brand new. To flick through the pages is to see the pages of a book that has been read in such a short time, that the pages are still very stiff, as though I have just brought it home from the book store.

The end of Sense of an Ending, has caused lots of discussion amongst readers. I would love to write my opinion here, but would hate to spoil the book for those who haven’t read it yet. I will leave it up to you to decide.

I loved and still love this book I enjoyed the story line, the characters and I especially loved the writing. I just know that I will definitely read this book again.


“A masterpiece….I would urge you to read and re-read The Sense of an Ending”
Daily Telegraph

“A precise, poignant , portrait of the costs and benefits of time passing, of friendship, of love. A masterpiece” – Erica Wagner, The Times

STAR RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Julian Patrick Barnes is a contemporary English writer of postmodernism in literature. He has been shortlisted three times for the Man Booker Prize— Flaubert’s Parrot (1984), England, England (1998), and Arthur & George (2005), and won the prize for The Sense of an Ending (2011). He has written crime fiction under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh.

Following an education at the City of London School and Merton College, Oxford, he worked as a lexicographer for the Oxford English Dictionary. Subsequently, he worked as a literary editor and film critic. He now writes full-time. – Goodreads

All books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library, unless otherwise stated.

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Images and author information: Goodreads

You can find my other blogs here:
Next Phase In Fitness & Life
and Tracking Down The Family

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Good Dogs Don’t Make it to the South Pole by Hans-Olav Thyvold #AtoZChallenge

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Good Dogs Don’t Make it to the South Pole by Hans-Olav Thyvold


The wisest and most inspiring book on friendship and ageing, written by a dog, that you’ll ever read.

The best thing you can aspire to in this world is company. whether it’s for pleasure of pain, a crowning or an execution; everything is better with company. You might say it all went to hell with Mrs. Thorkildsen, but you know what? It could have been worse, because Mrs. Thorkildsen had me to keep her company. And I had her. That’s what we had in common, her and me, what bound us together. We were company.

The Major, a World War Two veteran, breathes his last. Watching over him are his wife and his faithful companion, Tassen, the story’s narrator, who is, by his own admission, a couch potato and a one-man dog.

After the Major is gone, Tassen and Mrs. Thorkildsen settle into their new life, surrounded by books and stories of the 1911 race between Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and Britain’s Captain Robert F. Scott to reach the South Pole. Regular visits to the local library and the bar next door provide all types of enlightenment.

However wen Mrs. Thorkildsen becomes ill, Tassen’s world begins to wobble.

Good Dogs Don't Make it to the South Pole

My Thoughts

I picked this book up because the dog on the cover was just so cute and irresistable. At first, I thought it was a lightweight book of cute dog stories, but nothing could be further from the truth.

As Mrs. Thorkildson ages and her health declines, Tassen is by her side, listening to her relate the story ofan expedition to the South Pole and the role dogs played. Tassen thoughts on hearing the story are very funny and yes, exactly what a dog would surely think.

There are so many animal insights in this book, some comical and some sad as he has imagined conversations with himself about what he sees around him and what he supposes Mrs. Thorkildsen is up to.

Even though there is a thread of humour through the book, the story is definitely not light and superficial. As an older person, I could very much identify with the  themes of  ageing, death, companionship and life which as an older person. I enjoyed this book very much.

Translated into English from Norwegian.


‘I love it. If your dog is going to read just one book this year – this is it’ – Tess Erngren

Star Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

Hans-Olav Thyvold was born in Norway in 1959. He has published several nonfiction books and also been a journalist, radio host and TV host. In 2017 he published his first work of fiction, Snille hunder kommer ikke til Sydpolen. The novel has now been translated into English and is published as Good Dogs Don’t Make it to the South Pole. Thyvold has previously written and published books about Roald Amundsen as well as Fridtjof Nansen –

First Published in Norway 2017. This edition published in Australia & New Zealand in 2019 by Allen & Unwin. Softcover, 297 pages

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Find me here: Facebook and Instagram and Goodreads

All books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library, unless otherwise stated.

Images and author information: Goodreads

You can find my other blogs here:
Next Phase In Fitness & Life
and Tracking Down The Family

© 2020 Copyright. all rights reserved: